There Are Plenty of Ways to Develop a Municipal Transportation App

Denver, Colorado

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L.A.’s and Denver’s were spearheaded by mayors, but a powerful transit agency can just as easily bring key players into the fold.

Mayoral leadership paved the way for a multimodal transportation app in Los Angeles , and now Denver is bringing transit agencies and other service providers together on one platform.

In the Mile High City, a pilot for Go Denver started Feb. 23 and runs through year’s end, and if it’s used widely, Colorado’s largest city may issue a request for proposal to expand the project.

Both designed by Xerox, Denver’s app boasts several more mobility options than L.A.’s—Car2Go and its municipal bike share program—and its launch coincided with the addition of Google Maps’ real-time travel feed. While Denver picked a similar name to Go LA, the app’s packaging differs, and it’s closely integrated with pocketgov , the city’s municipal services app.

“Every city has a different set of transportation services, so there’s not a one-size-fits-all approach,” Crissy Fanganello, Denver Public Works’ transportation director, told Route Fifty in an interview. “Find champions that have the vision and ability to convene the right people.”

In cities like Denver, transportation services developed over generations across separate agencies. And mayors with enough visibility can get all stakeholders to the table and on a multimodal platform. Elsewhere, a more centralized transit department may have enough reach.

Regulation of the transportation market generally takes place at the state and local levels, which is why ride-booking service Lyft, a Go Denver partner, establishes urban mobility operations from city to city.

Lyft Transportation Policy Director Emily Castor said that the San Francisco-based company wants to enable booking through Xerox’s platform, opening up a new pool of passengers who won’t need to have downloaded Lyft’s app.

“What’s so interesting is to see how an app like this provides insight into how each of the city’s different transportation options fits together,” Castor said in an interview. “We don’t really know the whole picture and can only guess based on where their ride happens.”

About 25 percent of Lyft’s passengers nationally use the service to connect to or from public transit, she said. Of the remainder, not everyone realizes transportation network companies can seamlessly solve their first- or last-mile problems—the perfect marriage of services.

Xerox’s platform anonymizes end user and service provider trip-level data while revealing transportation system gaps, though it’s still too early to say how many the app itself will close. Still, Denver is beginning to paint a picture of transportation use across its metropolitan area.

“I think the transportation industry is a dynamic one right now, as there is disruption,” David Cummins, Xerox’s senior vice president, said in an interview. “As the technology evolves, we’re trying to evolve with it.”

Since being pitched in June 2014, Go Denver is helping the city better understand the demands on its transportation system while relaying more mobility information on crashes and construction to customers.

Other cities have reached out to Xerox hoping to replicate what L.A. and Denver have done, Cummins said, and service providers are seeing the benefits as well.

“At Lyft, we’ve seen a tremendous appetite for and want to facilitate a multimodal experience,” Castor said. “It feels like the next logical step in the environment, seeing all this engagement with consumer transportation services, and I can’t think of a reason why we wouldn’t want to be a part of this great initiative in one of our markets.”

PREVIOUSLY on Route Fifty : This Smart City App Collects Data L.A. Will Use to Improve Transportation

Dave Nyczepir is a News Editor at Government Executive’s Route Fifty.

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